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May 4, 2014

Handicap doesn’t faze Humphreys

VELMA — Bita Humphreys, already one of the best girls golfers in Stephens County, is now making a case for being the best one-handed golfer in Oklahoma.

With her arm in a cast, the Velma-Alma senior shot a 110 to help her team qualify for the Class 2A State Tournament on Tuesday.

Starting off the season with high hopes after qualifying individually for state the last three years, Humphreys shattered a bone in her wrist during basketball season and wound up with her right arm in a cast.

“I wasn’t as sad for myself as I was for the team,” Humphreys said. “I was so devastated it made me sick. I felt like I had let my team down.”

A consistent mid-80s shooter who has been playing since she was young, Humphreys’ success sparked the school to become invested in a girls golf program.

Jesse Anderson joined with her in 2011 to become the first girls golfers at Velma-Alma. With the addition of freshmen Brooklyn Bartling and Kyndel Brown this year, the Lady Comets fielded a team for the first time.

“It’s always been me and Bita since freshman year,” Anderson said. “Then we finally get a team, and we make it to state. It’s a big deal, and hopefully this will get some more girls excited to come out and play.”

Humphreys made it possible. It was in the middle of the season when her cast was cut down from above the elbow to below it. That gave her some hope. She had seen some people play one-handed before in videos and was determined to try it.

“I got out in my yard and hit 100s of golf balls one handed,” Humphreys said. “I got to where my short game was exceptional. I borrowed a belly-putter from one of dad’s friends, and my putting, I feel, is better than it was.”

Encouraged by her success, Humphreys set to work on remaking her golf game. She still uses her right arm to steady her swings with her driver, woods or irons, but she is unable to grip the clubs with her right hand. All of her short game is done with her left hand.

It was difficult, but with the help of her father, Larry Humphreys, she started to make some progress.

“I did have doubts. I didn’t think I could do it, but my dad helped me,” Humphreys said. “I’ve gotten comfortable now. I feel like golf is going to be so easy two-handed.”

Coach Lacy Darity hoped from the beginning of the season that it would be possible for the three-time state qualifier to compete again.

“Obviously we knew it would be a challenge for her to compete with basically one arm,” Darity said. “Just the fact that she came out and competed, to give us a chance to qualify, says a lot about her character as an athlete and as person.

“To understand that she’s not going to be 100 percent, but she still wants to give her team the chance to qualify.”

Darity also appreciates the leadership that Humphreys brings back to the team. Her knowledge of the game enables her to give tips and advice to Bartling ad Brown, who are expected to lead the new wave of golfers coming through the junior high ranks.

Even with two seniors leaving, they think they’ll still be able to field a good team next year.

“I think it’s going to be a program that keeps building,” Humphreys said. “(To make it to state) is a really good starting foundation.”

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